Genshaft’s performance stipend could be put to better use

 

President Judy Genshaft is USF’s best cheerleader and has done a wonderful job at marketing USF as a top research university, but that is nothing new.

As USF president, she certainly does a lot for the university. But also as president, she should realize the university needs funding more than she does and should therefore decline the Board of Trustees’ recommendation for her performance stipend.

Their recommendation, $122,500, is more than enough to cover the salaries of one or two more instructors, or almost 87 percent of the salary of Maria Crummett, an administrator who was hand-delivered a letter this past week telling her that her contract would not be renewed and she needn’t return to her office even though she helped lead a trip last month to build USF’s partnership with Brazil.

It’s not that she doesn’t deserve gratitude for her performance, and though the money comes from private funds, realistically it can be better spent almost anywhere else.

Besides the lofty annual base salary of $470,000 she earns plus the numerous benefits she may receive, which could easily support a handful of small middle-class families, she received $545,527.16 in total compensation last year. Earlier this month, when she stepped out in gold sequin gown at a fundraising gala for the university where pashminas and champagne were handed out as parting gifts to guests, she showed she rose above the hard economic times that hit the university in recent years.

Though she wrote to the Board of Governors this month to inform them her administration will “work to improve communications and clarify any erroneous perceptions that USF is not financially stable,” her words and actions in the past have shown USF is in need of some money.

Over the summer, she emailed the faculty and staff to initiate a hiring freeze. Though the money was eventually found, funding for the Library’s hours had a $136,000 shortfall (only a little more than her recommended stipend) at the start of the semester and forced the Library to close early for a few weeks. Over the summer, she referred to other spending reductions as the “new normal.”

But her performance stipend is not “normal,” as Census data shows the average family income is less than what is being recommended for her stipend this year — the average family made more than $51,000 and even the average upper middle-class family made less than $120,000 in 2012.

While Genshaft and her husband have contributed by donating $1 million for study abroad scholarships to the university, perhaps this money would be better off going to the university in the directly.

Alex Rosenthal is a sophomore majoring in mass communications.

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